A couple of months…

…since the last post. There is no question that I am finding it harder to update this blog; you think I would have more time now that I am retired–hardly. Fifteen months have passed since I retired and find myself busy with many activities and projects. Our days go by as fast as they ever did and to those that said the newness of retirement will fade a few months into it I can only say not so far. The pictures that follow will give you a taste of what we have been up to in June. Hope you are having a great summer!

So we finally bought a Mazda Miata (MX-5). After looking for quite a while for a good deal, we found a 2007 Grand Touring in excellent shape. It is such a fun drive, nimble and simply the best cornering car I have ever driven. Here is my wife at the wheel…yes, she does not drive it much, but she will, she will, yeah, she will.

 

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After purchasing our Miata we joined the Foothill Miata Club based in Greenville SC. Since we joined we have participated in several spirited drives in the Smokey Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway. Usually we have from 6 to 12 Miatas in a ride; it is a lot of fun. In July 25, we will be attending the largest Miata gathering in the US to be held in NC. Will share details soon thereafter. This photo was taken by Mike Barton during a break on one of the recent rides. Our Miata it to left of the picture.

 

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While visiting the annual Artisphere festival there was a sudden drop in temperature and before we knew strong winds and very heavy rain hit. As we are helping steady the tent we were visiting I saw this poor fellow across from us trying his hardest to keep his tent and painting from flying away. He was lucky as he ended with just wet stuff. Not so much a close neighbor; she lost many glass decorations. Mother nature can be finicky for sure.

 

During the annual Artisphere event in Greenville downtown there were several bands providing good music and entertainment; here we have the lead singer of Blitzen Trapper Band. This band originated in Oregon and is quite good with several albums since their maiden one in 2000.

 

In addition to playing their own songs they played some oldies like Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh. They sounded really good.

 

The whole band at work. The venue is the permanent TD amphitheater between the Peace Center and Reedy River.  A great venue where they hold mostly free music acts throughout the spring, summer and fall.

 

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Our youngest (Jocelyn) visited us over Memorial Day weekend and we had a fun time visiting new sites with her. Sarah (our oldest daughter) could not join us, so my beautiful wife decided to make a cutout of her so we could add her to some of the pictures we took during the holiday weekend. Here is Jocelyn and “Sarah” in the new to us Miata.

 

We decided to visit Charleston for the first time; what a beautiful city. Here we are going over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge connecting Charleston to Mount Pleasant – a large suburban town in Charleston. The leading lines on this shot caught my eye.

 

King Street in downtown Charleston is the city’s shopping center. Many blocks with stores of all types housed in beautifully refurbished old buildings. Looks like malls are not that popular here. The building with a flag is the Kress building. A really nice art deco example of a bygone era. See next picture for a description and historical details.

 

Important history, glad tis beautiful art deco building – look at the inlay work around the windows – is still with us.

 

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Time to take break from shopping, well mostly looking. Resting in some oversized chairs or maybe the gals shrunk a bit…regardless, Sarah’s cutout also joined in. Yes, my wife brought Sarah’s cutout with us just about everywhere. We would love you to be with us next time Sarah, but this was the best we could do this time.

 

This is one of the nicest homes in Sullivan Island, right next to Charleston. A perfect example of a Southern mansion. This Island has about 1,200 residents, beautiful beaches and many restaurants. If you make it to Charleston, SC you need to visit Sullivan’s Island and Poe’s Tavern for the best hamburger period.

 

Had to have a picture of us three. Thank you stranger for taking it for us.

 

Just a few pictures showing you what Charleston streets and architecture look like.

 

Charleston is a walking street; this was a quick trip, but we plan on coming back and spending quite a bit of time walking around and discovering historical tidbits here and there.

 

A very typical Charleston home. Notice the two door feature. The door in the middle of the porch provides entry to the home. The door facing the street provides access to the front porch and if open that meant the owners were accepting visitors. If it was closed, even if there were people in the porch visitors were not welcome.

 

The largest percentage of homes we saw had flower boxes that were really well maintained. This is one fine example.

 

Have joined a group of artists that get together for breakfast the first Monday of every month. We meet at a small studio/store/gallery owned by Richard Baker, a really good landscape artist with very realistic oils of primarily SC and NC landscaped. There are painters, sculptors and photographers in the group. Really enjoy the network opportunities; who knows, may decide to take a couple of offers I got to display my photography in one of the galleries some of the members own.

 

Richard chatting with some other artists and checking out the goodies each of us brought to share.

Hiking is becoming a favorite activity for us. We like to hike at least once a week; that is the plan. We are very lucky to have many absolutely beautiful hiking trails around us. This is a view from Jones Gap which is about a 20 minute drive from us. We also have Paris Mountain State Park with several trails (about 3 miles from us) and many other parks along the Smokies close to us. More on hiking in future posts.

 

At one of the falls in Jones Gap.

 

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We visited the girls in June, here is my wife taking a nap at Pike Lake in Warsaw IN. The weather was really nice and staying around the Winona area was a real treat.

 

Our two girls comparing notes as we wait for our pizza.

 

We made it back home safe (9 hour car ride from Indianapolis) – this is how we felt after the ride.

 

Our very creative and unique Father’s Day gift from the church we are attending – Beef Jerky and Root Beer – how cool is that!

 

We hiked to Rainbow Falls in Jones Gap with Anni and Kristian visiting from China. A really nice hike that took about one hour and culminated at the foot of Rainbow Falls.

 

Anni and Kristian having dinner at our place on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

 

Anni, Kristian and us ended our evening and the month with a nice chat around the outdoor fireplace.

Eduardo Murillo Artieda - November 28, 2014 - 12:19 pm

El Miata esta fantastico, impecable, parece nuevo.
Charleston es una ciudad muy bella, tuvimos la oportunidad de conocerla hace dos anios.
Te felicito porque te has dado cuenta que en la jubilacion, cuando sabes vivir, tienes menos tiempo que cuando estabas en activida de trabajo obligado.
Un abrazo
Eduardo

Back in China

So, the plan was to re-visit China in two years after we ended our two year assignment, but plans sometimes just do not pan out. Our good friends Ali and Nastaran had their first child – Vania – so we had to go and greet her personally. We spent a total of 27 days in China; we had a great time visiting friends, the facility and many of my teammates, old and some new places in and around Suzhou. We also took a quick trip to Macau, but we will leave that one for another post.

I took 2,695 photos, so narrowing them down to a reasonable amount was very tough…here we go!

We think April is one of the best months to visit Suzhou. Spring brings the usual warmer temperatures and the flowers and greenery is all around you. Suzhou is a beautiful city and have been told by many Chinese that it has been regarded as such for more than a thousand years. So much so that it used to be where the wealthy and powerful retired.

 

We visited a new tourist site for us in Suzhou called The North Gate; this is a view of one of the building on it. The site holds a working monastery and it had many beautiful and peaceful spots similar to this one. Perfect place to sit down with a good book and forget about time.

 

Those who know me well or are familiar with my work know that I really like to take pictures of people. This trip was no exception and you will see mostly people pictures doing what they do best — being themselves. Next time you complain about having to do laundry, remember you have it a lot easer than many. These two ladies are doing their laundry next to the neighborhood well. Looks like quite the workout.

 

Spring in Suzhou also brings out many art students to the numerous gardens around the city. We saw literally hundreds this particular week.

 

Wedding or engagement photography is another activity that seems to pick up during Spring; just like in America. Really like the red wedding dresses the Chinese brides wear.

 

If you like dumplings (you are really weird if you do not) the dumpling restaurant at  239 Linden Lu is the best in the whole wide world – period. My wife, two of her friends and I visited this amazing place for lunch one day, but as usual it was packed. So much so, that there were no seats so we had to improvise. We ended up taking our food outside, sitting on the steps and devouring the delicious dumplings and locals went by, laugh and took pictures of us. I think that day we made it to the Chinese Facebook called Weibio and or Renren. We really pigged out and it was worth it.

Click HERE for more on the best Suzhou dumplings – original post two years ago.

 

This feisty lady gave me a run for my money. She did not want her picture taken unless I gave her a yuan. I usually do not like to give money, but in this case I made an exception and took some I was not happy with. Saw her a few minutes later setting up her vegetable stand and took one more picture; boy she got a bit mad and wanted more money. Decided to just walk away.

 

During one of our walks around a side street in Pinjiang Lu I saw this young fellow peaking at me with a wonderful smile. How could you resist taking his picture?

 

For those that do not have a neighborhood well close by, the river will do for laundry day. Water quality is very questionable on this waterway; I prefer the well.

 

Just some colorful mops and containers drying before they are put to good use again.

 

As you get old (personal experience here) hair plays games on you. It stops growing where it should, and starts growing where it should not. This colorful character does not believe in trimming his eyebrows; a few more years and they will tickle his nostrils.

 

Style is very important in China. Here we have a photographer and his assistant during a wedding session in Pinjiang Lu (one of the favorite wedding picture spots due to its traditional look). Both young fellows have eye ware with no glass – they are out just for the smart look glasses provide. Now check out the photographers outfit!

 

A beautiful young lady having her picture taken at Pinjiang Lu.

 

Had to include my favorite Chinese soup. The taste is out of this world; white fish with pickled vegetables, hot peppers in a tangy super tasty broth; yum, yum and yum! Enough for three people easy and only $4.

 

Not sure what I am looking at here, but had to take a picture of her. She had so many trinkets hanging all around her and seemed to be a walking Adidas billboard.

 

You can make your own caption.

 

Check this police car decals out…”To serve and protect” does not seem to translate well in Chinese

 

Some poor planning was spotted on a recently renovated street.

 

The good times celebrating Kristian’s birthday at his home. We stayed two weeks with Kristian (in white) and Anni (not pictured). Great hosts! Great party!

 

My wife, Anni and I at Kristian’s party.

 

Was told these gentlemen are masters at some martial arts; highly respected and seldom messed with.

 

Another photographer practicing his craft at Pinjiang Lu.

 

How can you not love this lady. Check out her comfortable position and wonderful face; lots of character on this face.

 

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With the Sunday Brunch Gang at J&J (not the company, but the restaurant at Horizons).

 

Humble Administrators garden in April. Flowers everywhere, including on this large bonsai tree (oxymoron perhaps).

 

Meet Vania; the little beauty that changed our China travel plans for the better.

 

My wife with two of her best pals in China.

 

Nice view from the top of Xijin tourist town.

 

Some retired Chinese touring Xijin old town; relating to them more each day lol.

 

While touring an old neighborhood where tourist do not venture much into we found this proud grandmother and her young shy grandson. She was happy to see us and have her picture taken.

 

Improvise, improvise, that seems to be one of the main goals of daily life in China.

 

I think I am making my “improvise” point again.

 

In many cities around China the government is tearing down whole neighborhoods that were built 20 or 30 years ago with very low quality materials. It is good that they are addressing this issue, but it is creating a lot of problems for those living in the affected communities. They are literally forced to move and often not as groups. We met a lady that had literally barricaded herself in and refuses to move. No use, the government will eventually win, but she is making them work really hard before she moves.

 

We specifically visited Zhendjiang (a good size city south-west of Suzhou to visit the home of Pearl S. Buck. Pearl S. Buck won the 1932 Pulitzer in literature for her work The Good Earth. In case you are not familiar with this book, The Good Earth is a novel by Pearl S. Buck published in 1931. Pearl’s novel dramatizes the life in China before World War I. The novel helped America consider being allies with China in the approaching war with Japan. The view you see in this picture faces the view of the previous picture (buildings for blocks all around already demolished, but not Pearl’s home; it is a protected landmark and open to the public to visit.

 

Pink e-bike! No problem, it has complete different meaning in China.

 

My favorite water town in Suzhou continues to be Tongli. This is a view from one of the entrances to it. Many generations have lived in this traditional town, but now they are seeing many changes as tourist discover its many charms.

 

You have heard that you are taking many chances when you eat street food in China. My wife is very picky, but she has a weakness…you see her here eating a baked/fried morsel I will not venture to know what is in it. All I know is that it does taste good and it does not makes us sick.

 

Business is slow for some Tongli vendors.

 

Looking down one of the main canals in Tongli. This was a relaxed and quiet day; on weekends this pace is packed with locals and tourists.

 

Traditional door leading to a garden.

 

Our very good friends Ali and Nastaran; they are the proud parents of Vania. Thank you so much for your hospitality and hope we can host you in the US someday soon. We miss you.

Georgia - May 20, 2014 - 10:56 pm

Oh man, I have a picture of a ‘to protect and enslave’ car in Shanghai from three or four years ago. How have they not fixed that yet?

Ana María - May 20, 2014 - 10:14 pm

Love your photos, the people, places and everything that you shared. I can remember some of them.

Vania a cutie, she looks a lot like Ali. Very glad to see the proud parents and their happiness.

Horizon Records

After going out for dinner with some friends, they mentioned the Bohemian Café; a great place to have dessert they said. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the dessert selection was gone. As we looked around the place we noticed that it was connected to another business establishment. Looked familiar, but as I crossed the threshold into it, I felt transported back into the early 70’s. Just like that, I had discovered Horizon Records (HR) and wow – it is an amazing looking store. Immediately I felt the need to do a post about it; so I came back a few days later, spoke to the owner and we scheduled a time for an interview and some pictures.

A week or so later, I sat down with the owner of Horizon Records, Gene Berger at the Bohemian Café bar and had a great chat.

“I will keep buying good music and try to connect people with it until I am not allowed to do so or chose not to do it anymore”.

“I will keep buying good music and try to connect people with it until I am not allowed to do so or chose not to do it anymore”.

It has been 39 years since Gene Berger opened the Horizon Records store in Greenville SC. How did HR come about I asked Gene…”remember it was the 70’s…it seems I came out of a blackout and I owned a record store!” he said. While I am sure there is some truth to that fuzzy memory of how it all come to be, I am sure there was hard work behind it. At a time when most of the well know independent records stores have been put out of business by digital downloads and sites like iTunes and Pandora; Horizon Records continues to be relevant amongst serious audiophiles and those seeking what a real record store offers and used to be like.

Gene was born in Maryland, was raised in California and Oklahoma and moved to Greenville in the 10th grade (1970). Gene cannot remember a time when he did not like music; his first record was “The Letter” by the Box Tops, he loved the Beatles as mostly all did. His taste in music covers, amongst others, Jazz, rock, blues, classical. His top three favorite musicians are Brad Mehldau (www.bradmehldau.com), John Lee Hooker and Johan Sebastian Bach – I am including a link to Brad’s site as I must say never heard of him; having visited his site and listened to some of his music – he is very good!

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Meet Gene (left), if I could tell you this picture was taken in the 70’s I think you could believe me. However, Gene is very much engaged in the present, working to assure a future for his business and helping others in the community.

Regarding vinyl records and CD’s vs. digital files…“I love the tangible object, the ephemera, the collectability, the tactile connection with the music. This is who we are. It is not the same as here is a file in my iPhone or iPod, I am about — look at this album cover, this record. New or old vintage record, …look at this CD, I want to read the lineup – who is playing bass, etc. You cannot do this with a digital file; you may find information on the web about it, but I do not like to read it on a screen: prefer to have it as part of the tactile product.”

Perhaps my favorite quote from Gene was his response to those that asks him…How is business Gene? He always answers “despite the world and my best efforts, we are still here”.

 

 

 

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Now in its third location (2-A West Stone Ave.  Greenville SC.), Horizon Records has seen much change over the years. When the digital medium came out, Gene saw it as a fad, but was never fearful or paranoid about it. Paraphrasing some of Gene’s comments on change … things do change so you must find how far you are willing to embrace them and/or modify them to fit your own taste and values. Gene spends a lot of time researching how he can better serve his customers; while he is not a statistics follower he recently read that for the first time since digital music came out sales have flattened. He believes that the main drivers for this is the resurgence of vinyl, but more so because more people are streaming music instead of buying it.

In terms of sales demographics, Gene sees his demographics as a “rainbow coalition of different niches”, he feels that this is part of the beauty of it, but this also brings the intense challenge of keeping a wide range of tastes satisfied. “How do we keep the guy who wants the latest indie rock piece that is in all the blogs as happy as the fellow that wants the Blue Grass CD, as well as the lady that wants to go into the classical room and find a specific opera record, and then there are people digging for dollar records and on and on” … not an easy task, but that is the beauty of it.

Gene’s perseverance, business savvy (he may not agree with this one), customer focus and willingness to ride difficult times have contributed to Horizon Record’s longevity.  Gene remembers his opening day as him being more focused on assuring he had the music mix he wanted and if he had the right posters up. His first year was good enough to try for the second one; and so it went the years that followed. Gene and his staff of 10, a very diverse and knowledgeable group of individuals, seem immersed into music just as Gene is. This is not your Sam Goodie or Frye record store, where knowledgeable staff was hard to come by; when you visit HR you will be dealing with people who know and love what they sell. Horizon Records has a strong and faithful fan base intent on assuring their beloved store stays in business. I searched for some customer feedback on Yelp and Trip Advisor; I found nothing but good things said about HR.

Today, the store is busy and riding the vinyl resurgence while still offering CD’s and some music related books.  It is very well-organized making it easy to find your type of music. Believe me, the genre variety is amazing and covers many countries. The prices are very reasonable; some right down inexpensive considering that many of the vinyl albums offered may have some sentimental value to you. There are many records to choose from $1, $2, $4, $7 and up; new vinyl albums start around $16 depending on the artist.

Gene sees HR open for indefinite years to come. While nothing is certain, his passion for music, HR and the community he lives in is very evident. Gene feeds on these passions and keeps himself and his business relevant by supporting talent from across the region. Gene feels that HR will continue to exist, as many seek obscure releases and the irreplaceable factor of people interfacing with other people…“We get so digitized in general, that we never leave our houses, we worked from home, we can order our groceries online and they show up at our door, Amazon, website x,y,z… I call it the Cave Man fire factor; you need to come out of your cave and relate with others to stay human”.  In an era where most young people only listen to music through earbuds, Gene feels that you really have not experienced recorded music until you have played a record or high density CD through a good amplifier and a pair of good speakers.  We have lost much with heavily compressed digital files such as mp3, but you do not have to compromise; it is really your choice.

HR also stays relevant by hosting local/regional talent, where the feature musician plays to a packed store. Usually, that night the same group plays a full show at the Bohemian Café right next to HR. I think this is a perfect way to connect and provide less known musicians with welcomed exposure. In fact, as I was conducting my interview with Gene, a group was setting up to play a 30-minute set at 3:30PM to be followed by a full session at 10:00PM at the Bohemian Café. The group is composed of Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith, with Shawn Zorn (drums) and Will Sexton (guitar); they are promoting their new release Motel Mirrors.

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Amy LaVere, born in Louisiana, Amy is the most well know in this group. In addition to many nation wide musical engagements, she has acted in several movies; the most famous being Walk the Line, with Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix, she played the role of Wanda Jackson – known as the first lady of Rockabilly. Amy plays the base and sings beautifully.
John Paul Keith. Mr. Keith has been playing mostly around Memphis for years. He is the lead at The One Four Fives band, but also records with other artists such as Amy LaVere. He has quite a presence in YouTube if you are interested in seeing and listening him perform.

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Finally, and probably most impactful, Gene promotes an annual record fair.  For the last 5 years, it has been held at The Handlebar in Greenville (3 blocks down HR).  It is like a swap meet where dealers come from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama and other states. The event is very well attended by experienced collectors, general music lovers and has proven to be a great way to introduce vinyl to younger people that did not grow up with that medium.

Allow me to take you through a visual tour of Horizon Records and additional information; some based on comments made by Gene. If you are in town and like music regardless of the medium, you must stop and check Horizon Records out. If you like vinyl records or have been thinking of some vinyl you used to own but can no longer find -this is the perfect place for you. You will be amazed at the place, the people taking care of you and the experience as a whole. I see myself becoming a regular visitor and customer; keeping locally own small businesses like this open should be something we all should strive for and support.

Not a posed picture at all. In fact, I do not think Gene noticed me taking this picture. Gene is very much involved in day-to-day operations and makes time to meet and assist customers with what they are looking for.

 

Meet Brian Walker, teamleader at HR, brings 20+ years of record store experience and a penchant for all things musical.

HR has a room devoted to classical music; Gene loves classical music and you can easily tell he had his hand in making this room special. As you enter the classical room and close the door, you first notice all outside noise is left behind. Then, the current classical selection playing over the Hi-Fi system surrounds you; it is really hard not to enjoy it regardless of your taste in music.

Classical selections, as with everything else in the store, are many. When you visit make sure you go into this room, sit down and relax a bit.

Yep, no refrigeration needed. How can you top that!

Walking around the store many memories from albums I used to own. Memory lane is a fun walk, being able to repurchase some of them as they were when released is a thrill. One fine example for me is the album American Pie, by Don McLean. Recounting the Day Music died, this record was released in 1971, if you were alive and conscious at that time you heard this great song. You can still find some of the original albums at HR for a “song”.

There is a lot Frank Zappa for those die hard fans. A good friend of mine would be in heaven visiting this store. As soon as I saw this poster I thought of my buddy TT.

I have been telling friends about HR and encouraging them to visit. If you do, make sure you have at least one hour to really look around. Vintage vinyl everywhere!

When I mean HR has music from many other countries I mean it. I even found some peruvian music in there!

Entrance to The Vault. A small room filled with the best deals anywhere on rare as well as popular vinyl (prices are $1 & $2). This is another way Gene promotes vinyl to the public, by providing very affordable choices that may lead into some becoming regular customer of the medium.

You can try any album you like before you buy it. Great way to make sure its quality is to expected levels. Nice seeing turntables again. The yearning for high quality sound is gaining momentum.

A guitar signed by Buddy Guy. Buddy is an American blues guitarist that has influenced many well know artists like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page amongst many others. He is ranked 30th in Rolling Stone magazine 100th Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

There are several instruments signed by very well know artists. This saxophone is signed by Edgar Winter – a multi-instrumentalist rock and blues musician well know in the 70’s and 80’s and still active today. Correct, Duke Ellington’s picture behind is not linked to the saxophone.

For those times where you just do not know what to get you can rely on the staff’s recommendations. This section provides you with a quick view of what’s on sale and employee picks on new releases, favorites, etc.

The Bohemian Café – A view of the bar area. Really like the décor in this place.

There are two bars areas, both with nice art pieces on the walls. A great variety of beers for sure.

Even though the band only played for 30 minutes, the place got almost full in a very short time. Clearly, the word goes around every time HR hosts an event.

Here you see Gene watching, from his store, the band playing at the Bohemian Café stage. I did not come back for the 10 PM show, but I bet it was packed.

 

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I hope you have enjoyed this visual tour, but know I cannot give Horizon Records any justice with it; I can only provide a taste of it. HR must be experienced in person. HR feel is unique, the selection huge and covering the widest gamut imaginable, the deals are many, the staff knowledgeable and friendly. If you cannot visit HR in Greenville because you live far away, then I recommend you search for an independent record store in your area that has been opened for a while and sells vinyl records. If you are lucky, it will be half as good as Horizon Records. Thank you Gene for the time you took to speak to me and share your story. I wish you many more years; keep them spinning!

 Link to Horizon Records Website: http://blog.horizonrecords.net

Eduardo Murillo Artieda - November 28, 2014 - 11:57 am

Te pasaste primo con este articulo, me parecio estar en el cafe y la tienda, Gene Berger demuestra una sensibilidad extraordinaria, para llenar ese espacio tan querido por muchos.
Un abrazo
Eduardo

Chuck - March 30, 2014 - 9:10 am

Great article and photos. Love to see local musis community and the pictures give a real sense of place. Will keep this tucket away in my mind in case travels ever bring me there.

TT - March 26, 2014 - 10:06 pm

Carlos – Excellent article and absolutely WONDERFUL photos!!!

Looks like another reason to take a ROAD TRIP.

GREAT Zappa photo.

Brian W. - March 21, 2014 - 5:48 pm

Great post, Carlos, and as always, fantastic pictures! This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should give it a whirl – a bit quirky, but grows on you. It’s about a record store owner and his relationships, but also has a great supporting cast that include the employees of the store. Really enjoying reading about your retired life!

A Memorable February

About the title…why… you may ask? I turned 60! I do remember when I was in my early teens and thought being 30 years old would be like death…lol. Well, 60 feels pretty good to me, so I am here to stay as long as the Good Lord allows me. My wife surprised me with a trip to Beaufort, SC. What a nice spot in the coast right next to Georgia. Full of history, beautiful old homes and amazing trees; more on some of the pictures below.

After a 4 hour drive from Greenville we arrived at the Beaufort Inn located one block away from downtown Main St. A really nice Inn we highly recommend if you visit Beaufort.

 

Our bedroom was on the third floor, we had the option to take the elevator, but the view from the stairs was so nice we just did not mind.

 

As you can see, you do not have to sacrifice comfort in some inns; our room was spacious and had all the amenities found in good hotels. However, the old style charm is quite unique.

 

About two blocks from the Inn,  you could see Beaufort River, across, you see Lady’s Island and to the right you have several other islands like Paris Island, Hilton Head, and many others. Actually the whole area, including Beaufort (located in Port Royal Island), are part of a wide and elaborate island network of the South Carolina coast. Been told it is very nice at this time of the year, but summer is extremely hot, muggy and buggy.

 

We took a downtown tour and were told that in Beaufort you can find one of the best conserved Antebellum style architecture in the US. Had no idea what Antebellum meaning “prewar”, from the Latin ante, “before”, and bellum, “war”. The style is characterized by Neoclassical and Greek revival plantation houses and mansions. Similar of what you saw in Gone with the Wind movie I guess.

 

This particular home is called the Castle; it was built by Dr. Joseph Johnson in 1850. It is said that is a replica of a house in England that was destroyed in WW II. Beaufort has been popular with Hollywood as of late; in 1998 this home was the location for the film “Forces of Nature” with Ben Affleck & Sandra Bullock. The tree in the foreground is a beautiful huge Live Oak that was prominently displayed and used in one of the most famous scenes in the Forces of Nature movie.

 

As you can see, the trees often take over the yards. We saw some old photos of this house and the tree was half of its current size. The main reason Beaufort has so many old homes in such good condition is that during the civil war many Northerners had residences in town before it was taken over by Union forces. Therefore, Union soldiers were given specific orders not to loot or burn many of them. In contrast, other cities in the South were truly destroyed, so their historical buildings are few.

 

We visited Saint Helena Episcopal church, built-in 1724, it is the oldest church in Beaufort. There is a large cemetery on three of her sides. Many of the buried are confederate soldiers, but as you can see on the next picture…

…some are buried next to union or post-confederate flag times.

 

We did not have sunny weather at all, but it really did not affect the pictures you could take. When I took this picture, we had light drizzle, but I like the effect and the look the Spanish Moss gives the trees around the area.

 

Opposite the park in the previous picture, you have a look down a very common view in Beaufort. Really like the trees around here.

Our trip to Beaufort took place a week before my birthday, my wife decided it best, as she wanted it to be a complete surprise – indeed it was. We enjoyed it and plan on coming back in the Spring or Fall as we would like to see it when vegetation is fully developed. So what did we do the day of my actual birthday? Nothing much; just like I wanted. We took a lazy drive to Flat Rock, NC (about 25 minutes from our home) and had lunch at the Flat Rock bakery, they have delicious pizza. Some pictures below.

In the same are the Flat Rock bakery is, there is also a good BBQ place called Hubba Hubba Smoke House. Good BBQ plus a beautiful outdoor area where you can savor your meal. They have added several steel sculptures; this one is a favorite for people to take pictures with.

 

One more!

 

We feel there is nothing like pizza baked in a brick oven. The temperatures are high and usually they give the crust a very special flavor.

 

This picture is a close up of a 1954 Chevy truck (same year I was born); very appropriate picture for my 60th birthday.

To make February very memorable; Greenville, SC experienced one of the coldest winters on record. We had one night where the temperatures dipped down to 8 F – not exactly what we were expecting when we decided to settle in the South. However, the cold was not long lived. The last week and a half in February saw a few days in the high 60’s and even a couple low 70’s. Spring is almost here!

 

admin - March 2, 2014 - 11:01 am

Thanks you Heather!
Thank you Christa! I really like that old truck!

Heather Frink - March 1, 2014 - 7:18 pm

Carlos,
You have faired much better in your 60 years than that Chevy truck! No doubt Bethe has cared for, and treated you better!

Christa - March 1, 2014 - 6:39 pm

Happy Belated Birthday Carlos!!!! It looks like you had a wonderful time. My favorite pic is of the truck. I love it!

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